It's Friday and I'm still in shock that Marquis has been eliminated. I honestly thought he was one of the best dancers on the show and as much as I like Chris's personality, I'm dumbfounded that the judges kept him over Marquis -- Marquis with the beautiful line, the gorgeous extension, the lithe, feathery movement, and, on Wednesday night, the slinky, snaky Salsa in which he exhibited excellent rib cage and shoulder isolations, surprising for a contemporary dancer used to keeping his torso so straight. What makes me the angriest is Nigel's reasoning for eliminating him. He told Marquis his solo had too many tricks. Yet, he's told the other dancers repeatedly that they need to "step it up, step it up, you've got to step it up if you're going to remain in this competition." To the dancers, and anyone else listening, that means do more fancy things; i.e.: tricks. Obviously the smart dancer who wants to save his ass is going to load his solo with the most athletic stunts he can, even if he's naturally more of a softer, arty dancer, as I thought Marquis was. Unless Nigel and the judges are going to be far more specific about what "step it up" means, their logic just seems dishonest.
Regarding Susie: I'm sad she's gone, but unlike with Marquis, I can see why. I didn't think she was that strong on Wednesday night, despite Salsa being her thing. She is more of a street dancer, which isn't a cut-down. But she had problems with the theatrics, like the positioning and shaping in some of the lifts and the floor work. But I DID think her solo Thursday night was a huge improvement over the Salsa routine. Again, I found Nigel's criticisms nonsensical. He faulted her for not using the floor well in her solo, but right as he made that observation, the video above showed her traversing the floor pretty well with a series of side-steps, unexpected given that she was doing Salsa and not Jazz or Contemporary that naturally travels. Salsa is a very in-place dance; if it wasn't you couldn't dance it on a crowded club floor. Do they want the dancers to do a solo in their strongest dance or in one that meets some pre-set standard they have that they don't share with the dancers or with us?
I'm not surprised Thayne and Chelsie were in the bottom two but I didn't think their problematic routine was their fault. I thought the choreography was rather bland. It seemed to be more about the costumes than interesting movement. And, again, another ridiculous criticism from Nigel regarding those costumes. How is that possibly their fault? The choreography was filled with a lot of side step togethers that anyone could do. Thayne had a couple of isolated barrel turns but if they're not done in a row they're not that athletically impressive, and here they didn't even really seem to fit the choreography. Why is he turning, to impress her? To show his power over her? It didn't work for me. Even the lift wasn't very dramatic. They're both very good dancers though and I'm glad they're still in the competition.
I could also understand how Comfort and Chris were in the bottom three. I thought the routine was cute how they played off each other a bit while still doing mainly side-by-side action, but I was still underwhelmed. I liked Comfort's feet - how she rolls through them from heel to toe, from arch to outer edge -- and it sometimes looks like she's doing moonwalks even when she is just taking one or two steps. Still, overall, she didn't thrill me in the routine like she did in her amazingly wicked solo. I thought Chris started out strong but weakened. Either he got tired or just had a hard time keeping up the attitude. I think Nigel's "my granny is a better gangster than you" remark was completely uncalled for. Chris tried very hard and gave it his all, when it was so clearly not his thing.
My favorites this week were Mark and Chelsea. Mark is such a frigging character. "I'm a carnivore when it comes to dancing." I love him! I thought their Tango was excellent. Oozing with sexiness, passion, lust, and maintaining throughout that all-important cheek to cheek, in your face, let me breathe right into you connection. They interacted so well with each other, and I thought that was owing largely to Mark. In these Latin dances, the man is all-powerful, but he's suave, masterly, virile in a polished way, not brutish. Mark was perfect. Chelsea had some gorgeous leg positions - the dip with her leg wrapped around his back, the floor lunge. So sultry. And she had some beautiful kicks in attitude (back leg bent at the knee) that were perfect for this dance. I think it was simply gorgeous, couldn't have been better! I disagree with Nigel that Argentine Tango is "sleazy." I find it sultry, sexy, sometimes romantic, sometimes poetic when done a certain way, but I've never found it sleazy.
Will and Jessica's Hip Hop was rather unmemorable to me. There were mainly side by side steps without a lot of partnering, which, with Comfort and Chris's routine was okay because they still interacted by looking at each other, kind of dancing in response to each other in a way, but I didn't see that here. I think we lost part of the story. At one point she put her foot on his shoulder and he shrugged it off, which was cute, and I have a feeling was supposed to make sense within a larger story, but I seem to have missed that here.
I loved Kourtni and Matt's Foxtrot. I think it was my second favorite of the night. First, I love how they interact with each other, even off the dance floor. Really cute how she complained of his singing (and rightfully so, as we witnessed!) and he mockingly complained of her inability to appreciate "music." The choreography was very Fred and Ginger, with a good deal of variety. And it was executed brilliantly. Even simple things like the jazzy side steps were done with such flair and polish they became mesmerizing. I loved his toe shuffles and sailor jump. He really looked dashing. And I loved her sustained develope (leg lift) while he turned her around and around. And the ending lift was spectacular. I felt like Matt's control was much better this week, though he's still a teensy bit gangly. Perhaps more importantly in a routine like this, he makes Kourtni look beautiful. I agreed with Mia about Kourtni needing to own her size more and do more with her long legs than just extend them, though she does those beautifully. She needs to own her body in the rest as well. I totally disagreed with Nigel about Matt's facial expression though. I think he naturally smiles, it's him; honest for him, not fake.
I liked but didn't love Courtney and Gev. Beautiful choreography. It's funny, but in my experience some of the shortest men can be the strongest, and I think the choreographers are realizing that with him and are using it to maximum effect. Each week he's had nothing but lift after lift after lift. It's like the choreographers just want her dancing the whole routine above his head. And lifts are a lot of fun so strength in a guy is a very important thing! I wasn't all that in love with her though. I think she's more of a jazzy, hip hop-py dancer (though she said Contemporary was her specialty); she didn't seem to get the height on her legs positions that would have better suited this dance, and she didn't seem fluid or weightless enough. One more thing: not sure why Gev was wearing a dance belt for Hustle last week? Those are usually specific to Ballet...
I think I was less impressed with Joshua and Katee's Broadway routine than everyone else. After the way they built it up in the practice session (and after their stunning performance last week) I was a bit underwhelmed. I thought it was cute, but a little too much so. I didn't see any variation in character - I thought it was clownish and funny the whole way through. Katee laughed and smiled at one point while she was supposed to be crying, likely because the choreo was so humorous, but it made the whole thing one-note. I thought it played on Joshua's strengths more - and the acrobatic tumbling pass and the barrel turn were thrilling. Katee has lovely lines that she didn't get to use here and I thought she didn't exhibit the same precision and clarity that Joshua did with all the fast, high-charged, rollicking footwork.
And finally, Twitch and Kherrington's magical Viennese Waltz. First, Twitch has such a winning personality. I love how seriously he took the choreographer and his work, especially given the gravity of subject matter. I remember another dancer from an earlier season ridiculing this choreographer a bit, which I found very unprofessional, not to mention just rude. Anyway, what a beautiful routine. I love how Kherrington really made that dress flow. I like the little surprises like how at one point during a turn, he has one leg slightly up in the back and she's full footed. It's not just the man twirling the woman about but she's swept him off his feet too. There were a couple of gorgeous lifts but there was one in particular where it looked like instead of keeping her above his head in both hands, he actually laid her on his shoulder and she balanced on her stomach, atop his shoulder blade. That takes a lot of strength and control. And you'd never know it from the way they made everything look so light. So feathery and soft. Neither exhibited completely perfect ballroom technique, but who cares - it was gorgeously dreamy, lyrical, poetic, very touching.